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NEWS RELEASE
May 21, 2020 

Valley First and the First West Foundation launch $600,000 community response fund to help local charities in need

PENTICTON, B.C. - The charitable sector is facing a considerable challenge. COVID-19 has increased the demand on services that support our community’s most vulnerable—and decreased non-profit resources to provide these supports. Sadly, this lack of resources is also limiting these organizations in their ability to fundraise for donations they desperately need. 

First West Foundation, philanthropic partner to Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, is stepping up to meet this need by launching its Community Response Fund. This fund will bestow $600,000 in community grants to charities in regions served by First West, specifically $138,000 in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys.

“These organizations urgently need funds to deliver their programs and services to the community's most vulnerable during the very difficult circumstances the pandemic has created,” says Richard Hill, chair of the First West Foundation Board of Directors. "Our mission is to help them do what they do best.”

Registered charities focused on addressing food security and basic needs for youth, families and seniors impacted by COVID-19 are eligible to apply for the Community Response Fund on the First West Foundation website

“Typically, granting applications require detailed information to qualify and then the funds may take several months to be distributed,” says Susan Byrom, executive director of the First West Foundation. “We know the need in our communities is urgent so we’ve set up these funds as low-barrier—meaning the application process is fast and simple and funding will be disbursed quickly to address this need.”

The Community Response Fund program has two parts:  

  • The Community Response Fund will provide a total of $500,000 in grants to charitable organizations focused on food security and basic needs support for youth, families and seniors most impacted by COVID-19 in the regions First West Credit Union serves.
  • The Community Help Fund will provide $100,000 in the form of $500 grants to charities that complete a profile on Do Some Good about their organization to kickstart their fundraising efforts. 200 grants will be awarded in total. Do Some Good is a social impact technology platform designed to amplify community impact by connecting Canadians with local causes.In the region Valley First serves, the First West Foundation is distributing $115,000 in community response funding and $23,000 in Community Help Fund grants through the Valley First Community Endowment.


Applications are now being accepted. Charities can request any amount but may not receive all the funding requested. A small committee will review grant applications and make funding recommendations. As part of its community investment, First West Credit Union pays all operating expenses, ensuring 100 per cent of Foundation funds are used for charitable purposes.  



About The First West Foundation
The First West Foundation cares about the well-being of the communities served by First West Credit Union and its regional divisions, Envision Financial, Valley First, Island Savings and Enderby & District Financial. The Foundation, with assets over $16 million, uses income generated from its endowments to help create resourceful and resilient communities. Since its inception in 1996, the First West Foundation has donated over $6.39 million in grants to local community groups and projects. The Foundation grows its endowments through charitable gifts and bequests. For more information, visit firstwestfoundation.ca    

About Valley First
Valley First is a premier provider of banking and investment services for residents and businesses in the Okanagan, Similkameen and Thompson valleys. As a division of First West Credit Union, B.C.'s third-largest credit union with 51 branches throughout the province, Valley First brings innovative products, an extensive branch network and local decision making to the banking experience. For more information on Valley First, visit www.valleyfirst.com.

Media Contact
Josh Juhlke, Communications Manager
c: 604.309.6066
jjuhlke@firstwestcu.ca  


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